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An interview with George Blyth, Head of Marketing at Charlie Bigham’s
We managed to catch up with George Blyth, Head of Marketing at our favourite, luxury ready-meal company, Charlie Bigham’s. George made the move from large corporate player to boutique SME and, below, he tells us all about his motivations behind that move and why he has never looked back!
1) You made the jump from blue-chip (Mars) to entrepreneurial business (Charlie Bigham’s), what prompted you to make this move?
Big companies like Mars are fantastic places to start your career and learn the fundamental do’s and don’ts of business. However after 2.5 years, it was clear to me that I wanted to work somewhere faster-paced where I could make a much bigger impact. After a chance phone call from a headhunter I went in and met Charlie and the team and instantly knew I wanted to be involved. The passion and pride shown by everyone I met was incredible and really infectious and, being a keen home cook, the chance to work in a place where a 1/3rd of the office is a kitchen was too good to be true!
2) Why do you prefer working in a start-up/ growth stage environment?
At bigger companies most of the time you are battling it out with another big brand over points of share and growth of 5% is considered brilliant. In a younger business you get to genuinely re shape the market and grow by 100%. At Bigham’s we’ve grown from £4m to £25m in the 5 years since I’ve been here and we are still going strong. The growth is exciting as it means there are constant new challenges, which means you have to develop quicker to keep up! Another great advantage of smaller business is that you are really close to the realities of running a business, controlling overheads, managing Gross margin etc.
3) Why do you think Bigham’s is particularly special?
Bigham’s is special because we are a hard-working, bright bunch of people growing a lovely brand in the own-label dominated market of ready meals. Everyone at Bigham’s is there because they want to make our food even better and make Bigham’s an incredible place to work. We are a passionate and proud bunch and don’t rest on our laurels. Our ultimate goal is to make the tastiest food and, by doing this, we will grow the business as more people discover our tasty ready meals.
4) Why is Marketing at Bigham’s so interesting in your view?
The great thing at Bigham’s is we are rigorous in our marketing approach and we get to do everything….Right from the insight for a new range, to the wooden packaging, to the branding, to the advert, to launch. In bigger companies you are unlikely to be able to do all these elements as often they are decided at a European or Global level.
5) There is a hugely exciting opening for a Marketing Executive to join your team currently, what are the five most important things that you are looking for in your new recruit?
Passion, pride, intelligence, ambition & prepared to take risks.
A Lovework trip to Naked Wines’ annual tasting event and a chance to see our placed candidates in action!
Here at Lovework, we’re huge fans of Naked Wines …and not just because they sell mouth-wateringly delicious wines for a fraction of the price you would normally expect to pay (although this is a major selling point!), but because Naked Wines share our commitment to, and passion for, supporting small, entrepreneurial businesses.
Lovework is on a mission to help fledgling start-ups source top talent for their businesses. We help them overcome the barrier of having small marketing and recruitment budgets, by connecting them to exceptional people who will help drive their businesses’ continued success. With similar fire in their bellies, Naked Wines invest in some of the most talented winemakers in the world helping them out of a vicious cycle where money goes on selling and marketing, rather than on producing great wines. With their angel backing, Naked Wines have given these talented wine makers the chance to realise their true potential and, of course, we get to enjoy the sumptuous outcome of that.
And so, we were hugely excited by the prospect of attending Naked Wines’ annual wine tasting event in London this weekend, sampling delicious wines and meeting the wine-makers in person. The event certainly did not disappoint. We were joined by hundreds of avid Naked Wines fans, all eager to try the latest vintages and to hear the stories behind the wines we love so much.
Our first meeting was with Benjamin Darnault , whose latest “La Senche”, we were enormously excited to try. (It exceeded expectations and a case was promptly ordered). The story behind this fantastic wine, however, was even more amazing. 5 years ago, Benjamin, left a successful career in Australia to resettle his young family in his native France, but they were not prepared for the extent of the challenge that lay ahead.
He quickly realised the situation in the French industry wasn’t at all what he’d witnessed in Australia. He panicked. He’d brought his family all the way back across the world and it didn’t look promising. He knew he could make good wines – his dream was to have his own label, making wines from the great, untapped potential of the Languedoc terroir in France. He knew these wines could be very good. Using the knowledge he picked up in Australia, Burgundy, Bordeaux and South Africa, he could develop this incredible terroir and fruit – elements that had been neglected by the local growers for years – and make great wine.But he couldn’t get anyone else to share his vision.
Finally, and as somewhat of a last resort, he pitched his idea and sent samples to Naked. He was amazed to get an email back immediately …they loved his wines and they were in business! Boy are we glad about that!
Next, we met Katie Jones, whose Fitou is another Lovework favourite. Katie’s entire vintage of award winning wine was destroyed last year by vandals, but with Naked Wines’ support she has come back fighting and her business has been transformed. 2,500 angels rallied together to get her back on her feet – raising over £200k in one afternoon. And we can tell you, her latest vintage is a triumph.
We were also delighted to meet award winning sommelier turned award winning wine maker, Franck Massard, whose invitation to join him at his organic Spanish vineyard will certainly be taken up. Franck was Naked Wines’ wine maker of the year last year and his new vintage is pretty special too!
Finally, it gave us great pride to see three of Lovework’s candidates in action in their new roles at Naked Wines. Their love and passion for their roles was evident. We even managed to pap a couple of photos of them with the wine makers:Posted on: June 22nd, 2014
Startup 100, 2014: Lovework
Lovework has been chosen as one of the top 100 new companies set for big things in 2014: Start-up 100 2014
Entrepreneur Country Start-Up Of The Week: Lovework
Lovework is Entrepreneur Country’s Start-up of the Week: Entrepreneur Country Startup of the Week
Lovework’s Catherine Kennard in The Next Women: “With Passion And Commitment Anything Is Possible!”
Lovework in the press: Interview Catherine Kennard The Next Women
Find out why these guys love their start-up careers!
I am frequently asked to explain why I think start-up careers are so much more attractive than blue-chip ones. My answer is always long …there are so many reasons!
For example, in a high-growth, entrepreneurial environment, there are more jobs than there are people to do them. This means that start-ups offer employees an unparalleled breadth of experience. Not only is this hugely exciting- no two days are ever the same- it also means that employees learn so much more than they would in a relatively narrow role elsewhere. This is coupled with the fact that you get so much more exposure to the leadership team in a small business. Further, the pace of growth and change creates limitless opportunities. As a result career progression is so much faster than it would be in a large corporate. Progression is also meritocratic and governed by you: you can truly be the master of your own destiny whereas, in a large business, one’s career path is often already mapped out for them.
Beyond this, the ownership, sense of responsibility and ability to make a significant impact is unparalleled elsewhere. You are a big cog in a small machine and the agile and ever-changing nature of start-ups, as well as the pace of change, means you can move ideas from conception to realisation very quickly. This is hugely exciting and stimulating and really gets you out of bed in the morning. It is so empowering to know that you are making a genuine difference and so rewarding to see a tangible outcome of your work.
… I could go on all day!
But then I figured, “Who knows better than our network of candidates and clients currently working in cutting-edge start-ups?” And so, I put this question to them. Here are the responses I received:
“Influence, Involvement, Excitement” (Rachel, Vivid Drinks);
“Impact, Accountability, Pace” (James Bagley, Naked Wines);
“Creativity, Pace, Variety” (Vic, Charlie Bigham’s);
“Opportunity, Pace of Change and Influence” (Andy, Tough Mudder);
“Pushing yourself, Making a Difference, Taking Responsibility for your Work” (Eamon, Naked Wines);
“Tangible Results, New Challenges, Constant Drive” (Laura, The Fold);
“Responsibility, Creativity and Opportunity” (Alice, Raconteur Media);
“Agile, Collaborative, Excitement of Creating Something New” (Melissa, moo.com);
“Fast-paced, Dynamic and Varied” (Alex, Parkatmyhouse);
“Collaborative, Ever-changing, Exciting” (Mark, onefinestay);
“Flexibility, Independence, Dynamic” (Rosalind, Raconteur Media);
“Hands-On, Sense of Urgency, Disruptive” (Kathleen, Stella&Dot);
“Variety, Visibility, Ownership” (Dan A, Peppersmith;)
“Impact , Hands-on, Team Spirit” (Charlotte, Little Dish).Posted on: March 6th, 2014
So what really matters when choosing a career? How we can learn from the most successful
So, what really matters when choosing a career? As Eric Schmidt then CEO of the relatively unknown Google said to Sheryl Sandberg (COO facebook) as she was considering her career options:
“Only one criterion matters when picking a job- fast growth. When companies grow quickly there are more things to do than there are people to do them. When companies grow more slowly or stop growing, there is less to do and too many people to not be doing them. Politics and stagnation set in and everyone falters. If you are offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You just get on.”
Needless to say Sheryl took the role at Google. In her words: “Google was tiny and disorganized but it was a rocket ship. And, even more important to me, it was a rocket ship with a mission I believed in deeply.”
Cheryl stayed at Google for six and a half years and “learned more than (she) could ever have hoped while working with true visionaries.”
Cheryl goes on to describe that, despite being totally adverse to any sort of risk or uncertainty in her personal life, in her professional life she has learned to embrace it. “Risk – and a great deal of luck- landed me at Google. That worked out so well that I decided to embrace risk again, which led me to Facebook. At the time, other companies were willing to hire me as CEO, but I joined Facebook as COO. At first, people questioned why I would take a “lower-level” job working for a twenty three year old. No one asks me that anymore.”
In 2012, Sheryl Sandberg was named in the Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine. As of January 2014, Sandberg is reported to be worth over US$1 billion, due to her stock holdings in Facebook and other companies.
I think we can all learn from Sheryl’s choices. Start-up careers often require people to take a “step-down” in salary or to roll their sleeves up and do more of hands-on role, where someone may feel that this is now “beneath them”. I have seen so many people miss out on such great opportunities by focusing too much on job title, salary, car allowance etc. They have all gone on to regret it. Instead, I encourage my candidates to prioritise potential for fast growth and the mission of the company.Posted on: February 24th, 2014
Lovework’s mission: Disrupting the Recruitment Industry and Building a Loved Brand
Lovework is an entrepreneurial recruitment business with one simple mission: to connect the most exceptional people to exciting roles in high-growth entrepreneurial businesses and fledgling start-ups, providing new ventures with the very best team of people to help them become tomorrow’s success story.
When I founded Lovework, in Janaury 2013, I did not set out to create just another recruitment company. Instead, I intended to build a brand that would be seen by our clients as trustworthy, approachable and like-minded and thus representative of our values.
And this is because Lovework is not your typical recruitment business. We are a start-up working for other start-ups. We are staunch advocates of enterprise both internally, as a young business ourselves, and externally, working for entrepreneurial businesses to help them maximize their potential for success.
As innocent has shaken up the beverage industry and, as many of Lovework’s clients continue to innovate in their sectors: from confectionary to bird food, healthy snacks to nutritional ready-meals, these cutting-edge businesses are creating loved, personal and ethical brand identities, so too Lovework is disrupting the recruitment industry, to build an honest, open and loved brand that is based on trust and friendship with the consumer.
Recruitment is an industry that traditionally has a bad reputation. Agencies and Consultants alike are often associated with being solely driven by money, focusing on hitting aggressive targets and the short-term goal of earning commission, without having a consideration for the interests of either the job seeker or the hiring businesses.
Isn’t it time the recruitment industry was shaken up? Not least because it is such an emotional process for those involved, even without the added burden of dealing with an aggressive, money-hungry, jumped up recruitment consultant whose sole interest is getting bums on seats and subsequent money in the bank?
From the perspective of the job-seeker, searching for a new career can be demoralising, onerous, stressful and emotionally-draining. From a business’s perspective, it is absolutely crucial to have the right team of people in place. This is particularly true of smaller ventures where every individual has such a significant and meaningful impact on both business performance and team dynamic.
And so, through a number of key differentiators, Lovework is disrupting the recruitment industry and dispelling those negative connotations:
Our Brand: We have invested considerable time in our branding to ensure it is fun and innovative and aligned with the brands of our target customer. In this way, our brand is representative of our collaborative approach to their needs as well as our commitment to building loyal, lasting customer relationships.
Further, through the use of bright colours, fun imagery, personal case studies, and a chatty tone of voice, we hope that our brand injects some warmth and openness to the job search and thus relaxes, rather than intimidates, the job seeker.
Our Empathy: We are an entrepreneurially-minded, disruptive and innovative business ourselves, giving us a unique appreciation of our clients’ needs and goals.
Our Passion: We are passionate about entrepreneurial businesses. We must be… we are one! Further, we are passionate about the opportunities they offer their employees which, we believe, are unparalleled elsewhere. Our genuine passion for our clients’ ventures is absolutely core to the success of Lovework and is a thread that runs through everything we do.
Our Commitment to Promoting Enterprise: Lovework benefits from an extensive network of entrepreneurs and is passionate about encouraging worthwhile connections and promoting enterprise. We do this in a number of ways:
1) Through facilitating mutually beneficial partnerships between businesses,
2) Through making valuable business introductions,
3) Through hosting entrepreneurial networking evenings. Not only do these evenings facilitate the exchange of valuable information, experiences and contacts between entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs alike, they also offer a forum through which start-up ventures can promote and market their products. Our last event, in January 2014, saw over 250 people flock to Sofa.com’s show-room, to indulge in tempting tipples courtesy of Naked Wines, Sipsmith, Fever Tree, Belvoir and Vita Coco and tasty treats courtesy of Lettice, Peppersmith and Propercorn. Invitees shopped to their heart’s content for business attire at The Fold, jewellery at Stella & Dot, and even gained fashion tips from The Chapar. All this before calling on Uber to return them full, satisfied, inspired and thoroughly spoiled, to their homes.
As we look to Lovework’s second year and to the years ahead, as Lovework grows in scale, it is crucial that we retain the values that are so core to our business. It is my dream to build a team of entrepreneurial, like-minded individuals who are as passionate about start-up ventures as me and whose motivations will always be aligned to those of our clients.
As I picture our open-plan offices, I know that they will be filled with the innovative fruits’ of our clients’ labours: lunches of Charlie Bigham’s, healthy snacks by Popchips, Propercorn and BEAR, fresh breath for meetings thanks to Peppersmith, intellectual reading materials provided by Raconteur Media and refreshing tipples from Vivid Drinks and Vita Coco: it will be a true celebration of enterprise. And, who knows.. if business continues to go so well, we may even celebrate with a well-earned glass (or two!) of Naked Wines on a Friday afternoon!
CatherinePosted on: February 14th, 2014
Lovework in The Telegraph: Executives leaving blue-chips for start-up work
Lovework in the press: Executives leaving blue-chips for start-up work
Lovework’s First Birthday: A Celebration of Enterprise!
Wow! What a fantastic way to celebrate Lovework’s first birthday!
We had an amazing turnout of over 200 people to network at Sofa.com’s beautiful showroom in Chelsea. What an apt way to celebrate our award winning achievements of 2013 whilst ushering 2014 in with a bang! We were joined by some of the most cutting edge and disruptive businesses in the UK and were treated to a warm-hearted and engaging evening.
Candidates and companies alike lounged on sofa.com’s comfy sofas whilst listening to the inspirational stories of Kathleen Mitchell (VP EMEA of Stella&Dot), Rohan Blacker (co-Founder of sofa.com) and Eamon Fitzgerald (MD of Naked Wines). They discussed business USPs, overcoming obstacles, alternative methods of fund raising and their insight into what makes a candidate successful in the interview process. They even shared some amusing anecdotes which demonstrated that it is never plain-sailing to get to the top and, more importantly, to stay there!
We shopped to our hearts’ content for stunning ladies’ business attire at The Fold, sparkling jewellery at Stella&Dot, and, our male attendees even gained styling tips courtesy of The Chappar.
Our taste buds were also well catered for with tipples courtesy of Naked Wines, Sipsmith, Belvoir, Vita Coco and Fever Tree and tasty snacks from Propercorn. Delicious canapés were elegantly served by entrepreneurial catering agency, Lettice and breath was freshened in preparation for the networking thanks to Peppersmith. Those who over indulged in the wine and gin were also able to call on Uber to return home safely and for free! ..Not that anyone was in a hurry to leave as the anticipated 9pm finish soon became 11pm!
Two things really struck me from the evening: firstly, the extent of innovation in the room, from jewellery to sofas; wine to popcorn; extreme sporting events to sugar free, additive free mints: it was a true celebration of enterprise! Secondly, the strong feeling of solidarity and community spirit among the entrepreneurs. I was touched by the support and care I was shown. In addition, I received so much positive feedback from aspiring business-leaders, attesting to how much more confident they now felt in starting their ventures, in the knowledge that expert-support was so available and forthcoming.
Here’s to a great 2014 and to seeing many more new ventures started, with the help of such a supportive infrastructure of successful entrepreneurs!
CatherinePosted on: February 6th, 2014
Event highlights, Part 1
Some pictures from the event:Posted on: February 6th, 2014
Event highlights, Part 2
Some pictures from the event:Posted on: February 6th, 2014
Event highlights, Part 3
Some pictures from the event:Posted on: February 6th, 2014
Lovewok: one year on
It is hard to imagine that it was only a year ago that I set up Lovework, to connect exceptional people to exciting, high-growth, entrepreneurial businesses.
Prior to that, I was working in a start-up myself. I fell into this role, having never even considered the possibility of career options in entrepreneurial businesses. Having been so overwhelmed with big brand names when job hunting, it simply hadn’t occurred to me that there might be another path. However, I so loved the challenge, responsibility, autonomy and ownership that came with my start-up role that I decided to set up Lovework, to help others like me find stimulating and fulfilling entrepreneurial careers.
And what a great year it has been! We have helped just shy of 30 start-ups to find talented individuals for their teams. From wine to pets, extreme sporting events to healthy snacking, it has been an absolute pleasure to work with such exciting and cutting edge businesses as well as with such talented, dynamic and inspirational people.
We were also fortunate to have had our achievements recognised through picking up a number of awards in 2013. Smarta 100 named us among the 100 most innovative, disruptive and resourceful small businesses in the UK and they nominated me for Female Entrepreneur of the Year. We were voted as Home-based business of the Year in the Simply Business Startups awards and we were named as one of the Top 20 UK Startups to be founded in 2013.
As far as first years’ go, we could not have asked for much more. And this has all been down to our loyal customers. We have hardly had to do any business development at all since we started and this is because the vast majority of business we receive comes to us as a result of their kind recommendations. It allows us to focus our time on finding talented individuals for their teams as opposed to selling Lovework’s proposition.
I look forward to an even more successful 2014!
CatherinePosted on: February 6th, 2014
Lovework Named as Top 20 UK Startup
Lovework is delighted to announce that we were named as one of the Top 20 UK startups to be Founded in 2013. This is a great achievement particularly given that competition has never been stiffer, with a record-breaking 500,000 start-ups launching in 2013.Posted on: February 1st, 2014
What makes a business agile?
The first report produced by Alice in her new role at Racontuer Media.
Alice secured her exciting new job through Lovework and is absolutely flying. Within 3 months of her starting, the fruits of her labour are apparent here. It is so wonderful to see how well she is getting on and to hear how happy she is in her new role. We greatly look forward to reading her next report on Funding Growth!
Keep up the good work, Alice!
CatherinePosted on: February 1st, 2014
Startup interview with Catherine Kennard, founder of Lovework
Read my interview with Lucy Smith from the startup magazine here.
CatherinePosted on: February 1st, 2014
Freelance and Home-based business of the Year 2013
At Lovework, we are so thrilled to have been named as Home-based business of the Year, 2013 in the Simply Business start-up awards.Posted on: February 1st, 2014
Lovework Named as a Smarta 100 company
Lovework was named by Smarta as one of the most resourceful, inspiring and disruptive small businesses in the UK in 2013!Posted on: February 1st, 2014